Almonds remind me of the first sentence in one of my favorite books, “Love in the Time of Cholera.”
It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.
The almonds used in this French frangipane tart are not bitter – rather, they are richly sweet ground into the pillowy filling that holds my tender wine-poached pear slices.
Adapted from Martha Stewart, of course, this flower-like tart is a definite crowd-pleaser. I omitted the rum simply because I had none, but a dash of alcohol never hurt anyone…
Pate Sucree (crust)
Ingredients (makes 2 crusts – you’ll need one; freeze the other):
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed
- 2 cups white wine
- 1 cup sugar
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 4 firm but ripe pears, stem on, peeled
Combine wine, 4 cups water, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Add pears, reduce to simmer, and cook until the pears are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 20 to 30 minutes. Cool pears in poaching liquid.
- 1 pate sucree
- 4 wine-poached pears
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted, room-temperature butter, plus more for tart tin
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 3/4 cup blanched almonds
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1/2 cup fig jam, for glaze
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 10-inch tart tin with a removable bottom. Set aside. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour, and roll pastry dough (pate sucree) into a circle with a 14-inch diameter. Fit circle into prepared tin, being careful not to stretch dough too thin. Transfer to freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, finely grind almonds. Set aside.
Make the frangipane: Combine butter and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment (I used a hand mixer). Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add ground almonds, egg, almond extract, and flour, and beat until smooth. Spread evenly into chilled tart shell and refrigerate while preparing pears.
Remove cooled poached pears from liquid and cut each in half lengthwise, removing core and stem. Place each half, cut side down, on a cutting board and cut crosswise into thin slices. Arrange sliced pear halves on frangipane around edge of tart, leaving space between each half. Bake until the tart shell is golden brown and the frangipane is puffed and brown, 40 to 45 minutes.
Cool tart to room temperature before slicing.
Delicious! The pears themselves smell so wonderful while poaching – the wonderful combination of lemon, cinnamon and vanilla. Then the almond frangipane baking with that rich, buttery crust…ahhhh.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo